Keepers' Diaries, September 2008

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

There has been a great deal of wild contact this month between the older Ithumba orphans, led by Yatta (who have with them 2 little milk dependent satellites – Orok who is the shadow of Nasalot and Olmalo who has always been Yatta’s chosen favourite). It is the norm these days for Yatta’s group (as it is known) to separate from the younger set and head off independent of the Keepers, and the orphans that are still Keeper dependent have become quite used to this routine, Galana and Sunyei acting as the Junior Matriarchs. Yatta’s group usually joins them either somewhere out in the bush, at the noon mudbath, or back at the Stockades in the evening, usually very conscientious about the need to bring Orok and Olmalo back to enjoy their milk at least once a day and sometimes twice or three times. That said, however, this month Yatta’s group did not show up for 3 full days i.e. on the 9th and 12th returning the two youngsters for their milk the following day. On the 14th Yatta and her group were away for as long as 40 hours when Orok and Olmalo had to miss out on their milk, something that they obviously resented. Tthereafter they themselves made sure they received their milk at least once a day, escorted on the 23rd by Mulika and Kinna who left Yatta’s group to bring them back. Both Olmalo and Orok reported back for milk without their elders on one occasion, but the main group was nearby waiting for them to return.

01 September 2008

Yatta’s group joined the youngsters as soon as they were let out of their Night Stockades, and they all hurried out to the field to feed as much as possible before it turned too hot. Because it did turn hot, all thoroughly enjoyed the mudbath and then headed to the Imenti Waterhole to browse. In the evening, Yatta remained behind at the Imenti waterhole, leaving the Keepers to escort the youngsters back. Yatta and the older elephants arrived back at the Stockades an hour later.

02 September 2008

As the orphans were taking a drink at the Stockade trough, Rapsu tried to push Challa away from a tree. This attracted Sidai, who moved in to separate the two boys. Sidai, Ndomot, Galana and Madiba then spent a busy time having a dust bath. Yatta’s group had moved off alone during the morning, and didn’t show up at the mudbath, but returned in the evening. Having enjoyed the coconut hand-out Yatta’s group then left for the bush.

03 September 2008

The youngsters left their Stockades at 6 a.m. after the Keepers had found an electrified spitting cobra dead on the hot wires. Out in the field the orphans came across Acacia pods that had been dislodged by a wild elephant shaking the tree, so all enjoyed this treat. Zurura irritated Kenze by trying to deny him access to the pods and got pushed as punishment. Just before the mudbath Yatta and the older group joined the youngsters at the Kanziku area, and accompanied them to the mudbath where all had a wonderful wallow. The two groups spent the afternoon together browsing at the Imenti waterhole area..

04 September 2008

Despite a hot early morning, the orphans were as active as ever before being led by their Keepers to the eastern slopes of Ithumba Hill – an area well pastured. Kora and Sidai played a pushing game that attracted the attention of Rapsu, who came between them and disrupted the game. The youngsters headed to the mudbath, and rushed in to cool their bodies before going to drink from the drums. At around 4.30 p.m. the wild elephant named “Rafiki” came with a new friend, the first time he had shown up since the end of last month. Having taken a drink both wild elephants left, but Rafiki returned an hour later to join Yatta’s group, greeted by an enthusiastic welcome. He then left with Yatta’s group.

05 September 2008

As soon as the Stockade doors were opened in the morning, Challa, Sidai, Madiba and Sian rushed to each secure a rubbing tree as the others went to quench their thirst. Lenana and the Keepers led the group to the browsing area, which is now very dry. Just before the mudbath, Madiba and Ndomot enjoyed a pushing match to test their strenth, Madiba losing the challenge to Ndomot. After wallowing the orphans enjoyed a fabulous dust-bath. Yatta’s group joined the youngsters just before 5 p.m. and all headed home. Yatta’s group left the Stockades having had their Copra ration, heading eastwards.

06 September 2008

This morning, having greeted one another, Galana escorted the youngsters to the water trough and Sunyei led the column out, Galana bringing up the rear to ensure that none were left behind. Once at the browsing area the orphans fed calmly, although Lenana, Chyulu and Makena decided to remain close to the Keepers. At mudbath time Loijuk and Zurura led the milk dependent orphans to the milk venue, and after a lovely mudbath, all resumed feeding until it was time to return. Yatt’a group joined the youngsters at the Stockades, but left again once the babies were inside for the night.

07 September 2008

The orphans left the Stockades in a jovial mood, all swinging their trunks and deliberately bumping into each other! At 9 a.m. Chyulu, Zurura, Kora and Kenze initiated a hide and seek game within the thickets which went on for sometime and was a lot of fun. At the mud wallow Sunyei, Loijuk, Madiba, Lualeni and Kamboyo had a wonderful wallow, Madiba submerging his head deep into the water. Just before returning in the evening Kamboyo challenged Zurura to a test of strength. On the way home, the youngsters encountered Yatta’s group, who joined them for the homeward journey.

08 September 2008

It was business as usual today, although it was extremely hot. Yatta’s group was absent. Challa, Naserian, Lualeni and Madiba enjoyed a dust-bath before heading out. Kamboyo tried to mount onto Zurura, but couldn’t manage, since both young bulls are the same size! In the evening Kora and Rapsu engaged one another, a bout that was won by Kora. Shortly before 7 p.m. 2 wild bulls came to the Stockade for water, and remained there until after 8 p.m.

09 September 2008

After the usual early drink of water, Galana led the orphans to a rocky area not far from the Stockades so that all could enjoy a scratch. Kora and Sidai then engaged one another in a pushing match which was interrupted by Rapsu. After the mudbath, which was greatly relished, Loijuk led the orphans to a shady area where they commenced browsing. In the evening Chyulu led the first milk dependent group back. Yatta’s group has not appeared today.

10 September 2008

After a drink at the Stockade trough, Galana led the orphans to the Kanziku area where the youngsters browsed calmly until 11 a.m. when the Keepers dispatched the first group to the milk venue. At the mudbath Lualeni, Loijuk and Makena rolled happily and were joined by Yatta’s group, who suddenly emerged from the thicket to a joyous greeting of rumbles and squeals. Yatta then led the entire group towards the east and settled down to browse on the slopes of the Ithumba hill. The two groups returned to the Stockades together. Meanwhile at about 3 p.m. 2 wild bulls turned up at the Stockade water trough and enjoyed a drink, splashing water over their heated bodies. Shortly after having left, one of the bulls returned for another drink. He left at 4.30 p.m. but came back shortly after 6p.m. in the evening and was very interested in Kinna before trying to actually get into the water trough. Yatta’s group then left, and the young bull left a little later when two other large wild bulls turned up for a drink from the Stockade trough.

11 September 2008

After the usual Stockade activities, and a drink of water, Sunyei led the youngsters to the Kalovoto river area where they browsed for the entire morning. At l0 a.m. Yatta’s group came to the mudbath and having enjoyed a mudwallow headed eastwards. Half an hour later the youngsters came to the mudbath and once the youngsters had taken their milk, joined the weaned group in the wallow. Galana then took over from Sunyei and led the youngsters eastwards, in the direction Yatta had taken. The youngsters then met up with Yatta’s group, and all the orphans enjoyed browsing as one large herd until it was time to return to the Stockades. Meanwhile, shortly after 5 p.m. “Rafiki” and another wild friend came to the Stockade, where they were joined by Yatta, who joined them having had the coconut hand-out. Yatta and her group then left Rafiki and his friend, and headed out for the night. Rafiki and his pal followed them later and at 7 p.m. another wild group of l0 turned up for a drink at the Stockade trough. They spent over an hour at the Stockades, and left once they had quenched their thirst.

12 September 2008

Galana and Sunyei led the youngsters out today. The youngsters have become accustomed to being independent of Yatta and the independent group. Ndomot and Madiba enjoyed a tussle, which, as usual, was interrupted by Rapsu. The youngsters browsed at the Kanziku area until it was time for the mudbath when Chyulu, Lenana, Makena and Kora formed the first milk dependent group, followed by the others. All then enjoyed the mudbath. The youngsters then headed for Ithumba hill where they browsed until it was time to return. For the first time this month, Yatta and the independent orphans failed to return, having left the previous day with Rafiki and his wild friend.

13 September 2008

At l0 a.m. Yatta and her satellites turned up at the Stockade, and having made contact with the Keeper on duty, headed for the mudbath, where they met up with the youngsters who came in from the Kalovoto lugga. Orok and Olmalo (the two milk dependent youngsters in Yatta’s group) were very happy to get their milk ration having missed 4 feeds since Yatta left with Rafiki. The entire herd then settled into browsing along the slopes of Ithumba Hill, and having escorted the youngsters back to the Stockades, where Olmalo and Orok enjoyed another milk session, Yatta’s group again left for the night.

14 September 2008

Sunyei and Galana led the orphans out to the Kanziku area to feed for the morning session. At mudbath time, Sunyei encouraged Madiba, Lualeni, and Kamboyo to join her in the mudbath, watched by the others who were not tempted to go in. Twenty minutes later as Sunyei left, followed by the others, Madiba was left on his own, and remained in the mudbath even after the others had disappeared into the bush. He caught up with them and they browsed until Makena led followed by Chyulu, Lenana and Zurura back to the Stockade for the night. Yatta did not show up.

15 September 2008

Early in the morning, soon after the orphans had left, three adult wild dogs and two pups checked in at the Stockade waterhole. The dogs drank hurriedly, not wanting to linger. Yatta’s group returned in the afternoon, and just as they were preparing to leave for the night 3 wild bulls emerged from the thickets and joined them. Ten minutes later another 4 wild bulls arrived, swelling the numbers to 11 wild elephants. By 8 p.m. the wild bulls were still at the Stockade water trough, but Yatta had long gone, leaving them behind.

16 September 2008

It was a very windy morning that soon turned hot, forcing the youngsters to seek shade and go to the mudbath early to cool off. Kamboyo enjoyed climbing onto Sunyei as she lay in the cool mud while Kora climbed onto Madiba. At 3 p.m. as the youngsters were busy feeding, Yatta and her satellites joined them which resulted in great joy, the youngsters delighted to have them back. The group then browsed together and returned together to the Stockade. Rafiki and 2 wild friends turned up as Yatta’s group was about to depart for the night. They took water and then followed later..

17 September 2008

The youngsters, led by Sunyei, headed to the Kanziku area. At mudbath only Sunyei and Madiba went into the mud, while the others opted for a dust-bath. Later Galana led the youngsters to the Imenti waterhole area where they browsed for the rest of the day. Yatta’s group reported back to the Stockades in the evening an hour after the youngsters had returned.

18 September 2008

Early in the morning, Yatta and her group were waiting outside the youngsters’ Stockades. Olmalo and Orok had their morning milk feed after which Yatta led them and the others eastwards, leaving the youngsters behind. Kora and Sidai had a pushing match which was won by Sidai. After the mudbath the youngsters browsed at the Kalovoto area and met up with Yatta’s group back at the Stockades at 5 p.m. After the youngsters had all gone into their quarters for the night, Yatta led her group back to the bush.

19 September 2008

Madiba enjoyed a scratch against the unloading bay whilst Kora and Ndomot had a test of strength. The youngsters were joined by Yatta at the Kanziku area, where they were browsing and the two groups remained together until it was time for the mudbath. Lualeni led the first group to the milk venue, and all the orphans enjoyed the mudbath together, before heading out to feed as a united herd, heading back to the Stockade in the evening. Today, unusually, Yatta opted to spend the night back in the Stockade, with the Gates left open for them should they choose to leave, which they didn’t.

20 September 2008

Early in the morning, Yatta’s group were waiting for the youngsters to be let out of their Night Stockades. After morning greetings, and a drink, Yatta led the entire herd out to feed. They all came to the mudbath, and then spent the afternoon together, returning to the Stockades in the evening. Yatta then left at about 7 p.m.

21 September 2008

the youngsters left for the feeding ground as usual, without Yatta’s group. Ndomod and Madiba broke off from feeding to engage on another in a pushing match, which was interrupted by both Galana and Rapsu. After mudbath Sunyei led the youngsters back out to feed. At 6 p.m. Rafiki brought another 6 wild bulls who enjoyed a drink. Yatta then returned and took her group straight into the Stockade to enjoy their Copra handout before coming out to join the wild boys. She then left along with them an hour later.

22 September 2008

It was a cloudy and uneventful morning – the youngsters left to feed after the usual Stockade activities until it was mudbath time. There Loijuk climbed onto Kamboyo as he lay in the mud and Kora challenged Sidai to another pushing game before Challa interrupted events by wanting to join in. Sidai objected, and left the two boys to it. After mudbath Sunyei led the youngsters to the eastern slopes of Ithumba hill to feed for the rest of the day. Shortly before 6.30 p.m. 3 wild elephants came to the Stockade trough for water and spent almost a full hour there where they were joined by Yatta and her group at 7.30 p.m. After Orok and Olmalo had taken their milk, and the others the coconut, Yatta’s group joined the wild elephant who was waiting at the trough and then they all left together.

23 September 2008

At 7 a.m. Yatta’s group met up with the youngsters as they left the Stockade compound. Mulika and Kinna escorted Orok and Olmalo back to the Stockades so that they could have their milk and stood by them as they downed 3 bottles each before escorting them back to the rest of the group. The two groups fed together, and enjoyed the mudbath together as well, spent the afternoon together and returned together to the Stockade in the evening. At 7 p.m. in the evening, just as Yatta’s group was about to leave, they were joined by a wild bull. They then left without him.

24 September 2008

the orphans left the Stockades as usual, led by Sunyei who took them deep into the bush. At around l0 a.m., Sunyei, Challa, Rapsu and Galana stood aside to let the rest of the group pass them. As it turned very hot, they had to seek shade early. All enjoyed the mudbath where Sidai and Kora engaged one another vigorously in a strength testing exercise. Sidai then did a nose dive into the ground, as though to demonstrate to Kora what she would like to do to him! Kora just watched Sidai’s antics and was about to engage her again when Sunyai and Galana intervened. Back at the Stockades at about 5 p.m. the youngsters were joined by Yatta’s group.

25 September 2008

Sunyei led the youngsters out where Rapsu and Kora engaged one another in a pushing match which attracted Ndomot and Madiba. Since it was impossible for all to partake together, they broke apart and began feeding. At 9 a.m. Yatta’s group joined the youngsters and they fed together until it was time for the mudbath. There Tomboi, Rapsu, Sidai, Kenze and Taita didn’t wallow, but instead opted for a soil bath. Shortly before 6 p.m., a wild bull emerged from the east and relaxed some 500 metres from the Stockade rough until darkness set in, obviously a newcomer who, unlike, many of the others, had not become used to drinking in daylight.

26 September 2008

Soon after the youngsters had left for the bush to feed, only Olmalo arrived for her share of milk, and having taken her usual 3 bottles, left again in the direction from which she had come. At l0 a.m. Yatta’s group (with Olmalo) joined the youngsters and all fed together until time for the mudbath. The afternoon was spent feeding together and all returned to the Stockade, Yatta leaving once the youngsters were ensconced inside.

27 September 2008

Having come out in the morning, Lualeni and Zurura headed to the unloading bay for a scrath before Sunyei led the youngsters west of the Stockades to browse between two small hills. At 3 p.m. Yatta and her group reported bask to the Stockades for a drink, and for Olmalo and Orok to take their milk. They then headed out again, but returned in the evening for their Copra hand-out before heading back out for the night.

28 September 2008

As the youngsters left, it was drizzling with rain, which made the youngsters very happy and active. Orok then showed up, followed by Yatta’s entire group. Kinna and Nasalot escorted Orok and Mulika to get their milk after which the entire orphaned herd left together for the field. At 7.30 a.m. a wild bull arrived for a drink at the Stockade trough and several minutes later was joined by another. Having quenched their thirst both left together. Meanwhile, out in the field, the orphans were joined by 3 wild bulls, who browsed in amongst them until 11 a.m. and time for the mudbath. One of the bulls was young (about 15 years) and he came with the orphans to the mudbath and enjoyed it along with them. He then led them to the western side of Ithumba hill and he and the orphans browsed together until it was time to return. Back at the Stockades in the evening, the young wild bull was confused as to which group to follow as the orphans divided themselves into three groups to enter their various Stockades. He remained outside, and eventually left, followed later by Yatta and her group.

29 September 2008

Yatta and her group joined the juniors at around l0 a.m. and all browsed together. Soon after the orphans had left, a wild elephant who is a frequent visitor and a friend of Rafiki brought another wild friend to the trough to drink. At mudbath, the sun was hot, so Loijuk led the youngsters in a wallowing session before being joined by Yatta’s group. Later all the orphans relaxed under shade, waiting for temperatures to drop. At 2 p.m. Yatta led the herd to the Kanziku area to browse for the afternoon. Shortly after 5 p.m. in the evening the same two bulls who had been at the Stockade in the morning, returned for another drink. Later they were joined by Napasha, and then Nasalot and Olmalo followed by all Yatta’s group. Yatta and the older orphans then left with the two wild bulls.

30 September 2008

Early, just as the youngsters were about to leave the Stockades, Yatta and her group arrived. Orok and Olmalo headed straight for their milk ration before Kinna led the entire orphaned herd out into the bush to feed. At mudbath Loijuk, Lualeni, Kambouyo and Madiba had a prolonged bath followed by a dust-bath. Later Mulika led the herd to the Kalovoto area where they settled down to feed. At 5 p.m. they had all arrived back at the Stockade with the exception of Yatta, Kinna and Selengai, who remained behind and reported back an hour later, as their peers were enjoying the coconut hand-out.